Martin Whitfield MSP is urging residents in South Scotland to be on their guard against cost-of-living scams as Scotland’s ScamWatch Fortnight gets underway.
This year’s ‘Read Between the Li(n)es’ campaign highlights the importance of remaining vigilant – with fraudsters using emails, texts and social media to prey on people of all ages.
Advice Direct Scotland, which runs the national consumer advice service consumeradvice.scot on behalf of the Scottish Government, continues to see new tactics deployed as criminals try to manipulate struggling households.
Any local resident in South Scotland region who wants to report a scam should fill in the ScamWatch Quick Reporting Tool at www.scamwatch.scot which collects intelligence to share with local authorities.
With energy bills set to soar, recent reported scams include fake discounts on prepayment meters and bogus offers of energy or HMRC rebates, which leave potential victims even more disadvantaged.
Consumers are also being warned about a surge in investment scams such as cryptocurrency deals, often featuring sham celebrity or expert endorsements, circulated on social media.
Alongside this are bank telephone scams and romance frauds, designed to steal money.
Scots are also being encouraged to stay on their guard to traditional doorstep scams by bogus callers posing as tradespeople.
The Scottish ScamWatch Fortnight, which runs on social media platforms until August 28, will look at scam methods and offer free advice on the ways in which consumers can reduce exposure to scammers.
Martin Whitfield MSP said:
“I welcome Scottish ScamWatch Fortnight. It is an important campaign helping people to read between the lines when they receive unexpected contact over the phone, by email or in person.
“Bogus callers and scams have ballooned over recent years and become a significant problem for everyone. These scammers are criminals taking advantage of people of all ages and backgrounds. They use a variety of different ways to target people, so we must all be on our guard.
“I am encouraging residents to find out about how they can take action to protect themselves from scammers. Free and impartial advice is also available throughout the year from Advice Direct Scotland online and over the phone.”
If you have been contacted by someone and you are concerned they may be trying to scam you:
- Don’t send them any money or buy anything; you should always do your homework before agreeing to anything such as checking online reviews of the company.
- Don’t give them any personal information, bank details, passwords or PIN numbers. If you have given out this type of information, you should change all passwords and pins and notify your bank.
- Don’t download any attachments or files in emails or click on any links. If you have, then you should check that your device security is up to date and run a virus scan.
- Don’t ring any numbers you’ve received in an email or letter, especially if it’s a premium rate number. If you are unsure about the cost of dialling a particular number, contact your service provider for advice.
- Don’t let them into your house. If you are concerned about someone that you have allowed into your house who has refused to leave or someone knocking on doors in your area, call the police.
The ScamWatch campaign will provide tips on how to spot and avoid common scams, such as checking the legitimacy of investment opportunities, and the importance of using approved and trusted traders.
Free, impartial and practical advice is available to anyone in Scotland through Advice Direct Scotland’s consumeradvice.scot service. Consumers can seek help in a number of different ways: freephone 0808 164 6000; and online, web chat and email at www.consumeradvice.scot.
The simple ScamWatch Quick Reporting Tool is available to report suspected scams and suspicious activity at www.scamwatch.scot. You can also contact Police Scotland 101 or dial 999 in an emergency.
Colin Mathieson, spokesperson for Advice Direct Scotland, said:
“With scammers using a mixture of methods to target Scots consumers, it has never been more important for us to be aware of how to avoid them.
“We have seen scammers adapt their tactics in line with major world events, including the Covid-19 pandemic and crisis in Ukraine. New scams including fake energy rebates are being recorded as scammers try to exploit the challenging circumstances facing many families across Scotland.
“Throughout the campaign, we are highlighting the importance of remaining vigilant and pausing before interacting with emails, text messages or social media adverts. The most effective way to stop scammers in their tracks is to report a scam to scamwatch.scot when you see one.
“It’s important to remember there is no shame in being scammed, and consumers who are concerned or need help should contact one of our specialist consumer advisers for free, impartial and practical advice.”